Apple CEO Tim Cook greets India on his maiden visit with a ‘namaste’ at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai, May 18. (Press Trust of India)
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is on his maiden five-day visit to India, met the honchos of India, Inc., leading bankers and the Bollywood royalty, and inaugurated a development center in Hyderabad, as Apple seeks to bolster its presence in India. (#Siliconeer, @Siliconeer, #Apple, #TimCook, #DigitalIndia, #MakeinIndia)
Cook met Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry, TCS managing director N. Chandrasekaran and Vodafone chief executive Sunil Sood at the Taj Hotel and held a meeting with ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar at the bank’s headquarters, May 18.
The Apple CEO, who landed in Mumbai on a private jet from Beijing, stayed in a large suite at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace, began his India sojourn on a religious note by paying a visit to the famed Siddhivinayak Temple in the heart of the mega-polis.
At the Siddhivinayak Temple, located at Prabhadevi area of south Central Mumbai, he also chanced up on Mukesh Ambani’s elder son Anant Ambani.
Interestingly, the media was kept away from all these engagements.
Cook walked into the ICICI Bank Towers in the Bandra Kurla Complex business district in Mumbai and spent over an hour at the bank, and met its managing director and chief executive officer Kochhar and executive directors at the closed-door meeting, sources said.
ICICI Bank was among the first to introduce the banking application on the Apple Watch, even before the gadget got launched in the country. Over the past few years, it has also introduced a slew of other initiatives on the digital front, including a digital wallet, just like the ‘Apple Pay’ by the tech giant.
Cook reportedly had lunch at Mukesh Ambani’s billion-dollar residence Antilla, even though the RIL chairman is away in the U.S., he had dinner with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan at his sea-facing residence, Mannat, in Bandra.
At the last leg of his five-day visit, Cook is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, May 21, before winding up his visit, and likely to discuss issues pertaining to opening Apple Stores. In the Capital, he is also slated to meet Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal.
Cook also met four app developers and understood their applications in the city.
“Great to hear from some of India’s top iOS developers today. Innovative apps and many ideas for the future!” Cook tweeted in the evening.
Cook headed for Bangalore and Hyderabad May 19.
Apple will set up an app design and development center in Bengaluru to support developers in India creating innovative mobile apps for its iOS platform.
Cook also inaugurated its development facility to be used as a mapping center in Hyderabad, May 19, in the presence of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
The app design and development accelerator or laboratory will open in the Silicon Valley of the East early 2017, Apple said in a statement. The company, however, did not disclose the investments.
Apple, which is facing slagging sales in the U.S. and Europe, is pushing for opening retail stores in the country, which recorded a whopping 56% jump in sales to over $1 billion.
Cook, who took over the job of CEO at the Cupertino-based tech giant in 2011 following the death of its legendary founder Steve Jobs, was scheduled to visit Bengaluru, Hyderabad and New Delhi, and is expected to meet industry to discuss matters like manufacturing and expansion of network in the country.
The company, which has a network of 33 Apple stores in China, is seeking to import and sell refurbished iPhones here but this proposal is facing opposition from authorities.
The Apple CEO’s visit comes at a time when the U.S.-based firm is focusing on new growth markets like India after posting its first-ever decline in iPhone sales globally, except in India.
India is the world’s third-largest smartphone market with over 100 million handsets sold last year. This is projected to grow 25% this year. But Apple’s iPhone has only a 2% market share.
In an interview earlier this month, Cook had said Apple saw “huge market potentials” for its products in India and that it was “really putting energy” here.
Cook arrived here from China, where Apple has just invested $1 billion in the taxi hailing company Didi Chuxing. The cab hailing company owns equity in Ola, which is the largest taxi-aggregator in India.
The American tech giant had taken about 150,000 sq. ft. area on lease, in a building owned by Tishman Speyer at Nanakramguda area of the Telegana capital, to use the facility as mapping center for its applications that will focus on development of Maps for products like iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao inaugurated the facility, May 19, in the presence of Apple CEO Tim Cook and state IT Minister K T Rama Rao.
“We are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development,” Cook said.
“The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale up our operations.”
Though the California-based company did not reveal the quantum of investment, it maintained that the capital will help accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs.
Cook acknowledged that the maker of popular gadgets may not be the first to invent products, but always tries to give the best.
“Apple has always been about creating the very best products in the world. Nevertheless, perhaps not the first, but always the best,” the Apple CEO said during the inauguration of the facility.
“We always try to bring products that would enrich people’s lives. Because we are driven by a culture of changing the world and changing it for the better.”
Apple announced a new initiative to support engineering talent and accelerate growth in India’s iOS developer community, May 18.
Cook is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his trip.
“I travelled to India this week knowing about the culture, knowing about the people and I learnt a lot about all of those. And I still have a lot to learn. But most of all, I believe India is inspiring and I am deeply inspired by the vibrancy of the people, the energy, the enthusiasm, and the incredible talent,” Cook said.
Cook also visited G. Narayanamma Institute of Technology & Science (GNITS) for Women here to launch MAC lab.
GNITS signed an MoU with Apple. Apple chose GNITS as a center for excellence, only of its kind in India and third in the world as its favorite collaboration for launching the MAC lab-based training, a release stated.
As part of MoU with Apple, research oriented App development MAC lab with high-end Apple systems of huge investment is contributed by Apple to GNITS. Top class specialized app developers from Apple are training GNITS students to enhance the practical knowledge of Mac IOs and related future apps, it said.
When students asked question about how Apple encourages the young minds, Cook pointed out that for younger generation to get into top class company like Apple, one should think differently, should be of high integrity, must communicate effectively, work with the group without ego and able to propose and understand new ideas.
On another question regarding the enhancement of products for future challenges, Cook felt that Apple team is working hard to understand the future generation requirements and is looking forward to collaborate/assist the teams /groups to develop new apps for Mac IOs.
Apple also has plans to set up an app design and development center in Bengaluru to support developers in India creating innovative mobile apps for its iOS platform.